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K-A-B Electro-Acoustics EV-1 Professional Record Cleaner

Affordable Vacuum Record Cleaner

[Italian version]

Product: K-A-B Electro-Acoustics EV-1 Professional Record Cleaner
Manufacturer: K-A-B Electro-Acoustics - USA
Address: Post Office Box 2922, Plainfield, New Jersey 07062-0922 USA
Phone: (908) 754-1479
Price: $129 Plus Shipping and Handling
Reviewer: Nels Ferré

[KAB EV-1 Record Cleaner]
The KAB EV-1

Background and Description

Up until I got back into vinyl, if someone had asked me if I owned a record cleaner, my reply would have been "Of course. I own a Discwasher".
In the back of my mind, however, I wondered if the Discwasher was getting out all of the nasties deep down in the record grooves. I theorized that if it wasn't, the stylus was actually drilling all of the dirt farther in the grooves, rather like a diamond tipped jackhammer. Something had to be done, so I started researching vacuum assisted record cleaners. There seemed to be two main brands on the market, Nitty Gritty and VPI.
After seeing the prices on the VPI machines (gulp), I came to the conclusion that the Nitty Gritty 1.0 was the one for me. Luckily, I became aware, quite by accident, of the K-A-B Electro-Acoustics EV-1.

Kevin Barrett of K-A-B actually licenses the rights to the EV-1 from Nitty Gritty. Basically, the EV-1 is a Nitty Gritty 1.0 without the vacuum motor. It is designed to be used with the home vacuum cleaner that you already own. Because it does not have it's own internal vacuum, the EV-1 retails at a hefty $100 under the Nitty Gritty machine.
It comes with everything needed to deep clean your vinyl in the kit: the EV-1 itself, the cleaner applicator pad, a 4 ounce bottle of Nitty Gritty cleaner, an adapter to clean large hole 7 inch discs, and the attachments to connect the unit to your home vacuum cleaner. The EV-1 is not recommended for use with a shop vac.
Inside the unit is an ingenious system for keeping collected fluid out of the vacuum cleaner hose. On the underside of the unit is a small rubber plug, which is removed after a cleaning session to drain the dirty fluid from the EV-1.

Listening and Overall Impressions

Using the EV-1 is easy. First attach your vacuum hose to the right side of the EV-1. Next, place the disc on the spindle, then apply a line of fluid to the applicator pad. Next, run a bead of cleaner to the record from the label outwards to the edge, and use the applicator pad to spread the fluid evenly over the surface of the disc.
Then flip the record over, put the "spinner" attachment over the spindle (protecting the label). Turn your vacuum cleaner on, spin the record slowly 4 or 5 times to make sure it is completely dry, and then repeat these steps to clean the other side. (The side now facing you will be the dirty side, awaiting the fluid.) It is not necessary to add more fluid to the applicator pad after the first side has been cleaned.

Not only is the EV-1 inexpensive, but it works great. I was amazed at a few different improvements after using the EV-1 for just a few days. Most noticeable was the reduction, or in many cases elimination, of surface noise.
I found that records in "good" condition sounded like new after just 1 cleaning; records that were in "poor" condition became much more listenable, even enjoyable, after cleaning. Although surface noise was still present on these discs, it was much less irritating.

Additionally, I have 3 favorite discs, that although they appeared to be "clean", would all keep the needle stuck in a groove. After cleaning them with the EV-1, they play right through. In fact, on 2 of them, there isn't a click or a pop at the spot where they would have normally become stuck.
All I can figure is that the EV-1 removed deep down garbage in the groove that was causing the stylus to become stuck. Amazing!
All discs seem more dynamic after cleaning with the EV-1. My thinking here is that, after removing microscopic particles, the stylus is tracing the actual grooves, instead of grooves coated with dust.

Speaking of dust, here is something to ponder: by cleaning your discs with the EV-1, not only are your records spared a large amount of wear, but so is your stylus. The EV-1 could easily pay for itself by stretching the time between stylus replacements or re-tips.


First, I must say that if you are cleaning your records with a Discwasher or the like, your records aren't clean. At the price, if it only cared for your vinyl (and stylus), it would be an excellent buy.
The fact that it makes vinyl sound new (or, at least, much better), makes the acqisition of an EV-1 mandatory for those who do not already own a record cleaning machine. To my ears, the improvement that the EV-1 makes in sound quality were as substantial as a component upgrade.

I would recommend however, that should you decide to buy an EV-1, go ahead and buy an extra bottle of cleaning fluid. The 4 ounce bottle that comes with the kit will clean about 35 discs.
When you hear the improvements, I am sure you will go into a cleaning frenzy as I did. K-A-B offers the fluid in 16, 32, or 128 ounce bottles.

I purchased my review sample. Need I say more?

I would like to say "Thank You" to Kevin Barrett for marketing such a worthwhile, effective and inexpensive product.

© Copyright 2000 Nels Ferré - http://www.tnt-audio.com

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